Trends in workplace wellbeing: what’s (not) working

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In 2022, Google searches for “wellbeing in the workplace” saw an increase of 190% from the previous year. Of course, this huge spike is likely down to the post-pandemic wellness surge. But now the cat’s out of the bag: people know, understand, and care about their wellbeing than ever before.

In fact, a study by The Executive Development Network found that 86% of employees are likely to leave a job if it did not support their wellbeing.

As a result, employers in mass are seeking ways of improving their employee wellbeing offering to protect and support their workforce. The problem? Most of these wellbeing benefits just don’t work.

Employers are seeing low engagement rates with their current wellbeing benefits which begs the question: How do you support employees who aren’t using the support you’re providing?

Employee wellbeing trends to be aware of

The truth is that wellbeing trends come and go. The big trend in 2021 was mental health, menopause in 2022, financial wellbeing in 2023, and neurodiversity in 2024.

For employers, it means constantly chasing the next trend and implementing a new solution as fast as possible. But by the time these solutions are in place – the needs for support may have already passed.

Heka’s Definitive Guide to Employee Wellbeing in 2024 looked at what employee wellbeing trends emerged across 2023, and how this can help employers be prepared and ahead of the trends we expect to see in 2024. 

Here’s some of the headline trends worth noting:

  • Neurodiversity is the focus – offering flexible and tailored support that’s inclusive.
  • Employees are opting for virtual therapy support instead of in-person counselling.
  • People want to support their physical health outside of the gym with virtual yoga classes, nutrition, and sports.
  • Wellbeing benefits are over complicated and the likely cause for low engagement.

When it comes to mental health, we found that 4 in 5 employees prefer apps and virtual support compared with in-person therapy. It raises the point that a flexible benefits offering goes beyond just a bigger list of headline benefits, such as “mental health”, to choose from. Instead, you should consider alternative ways for employees to seek support so that your benefits are truly inclusive and accessible to everyone.

Changing the perspective on wellbeing in HR

We need to start taking the conversation beyond “wellbeing awareness” and into active encouragement to support employee’s own wellbeing.

Approximately 1 in 6 adults in the UK are experiencing depression but only 15% of women and 9% of men actually seek and receive treatment.

In short; the solutions employers have in place right now aren’t working. And if it’s not working, it means that it’s not good enough.

And the reason why is mostly likely simple; using wellbeing benefits has so much friction. People struggling with their mental health shouldn’t have to complete forms and questionnaires in order to book an appointment in two-weeks time. Employees shouldn’t be unsure on whether they can have their gym membership costs reimbursed – and they certainly shouldn’t be forced to use a gym membership as the only way to support their physical health.

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Wellbeing in the workplace shouldn’t be about curing a problem – it should be about preventing it in the first place.

About the author

Alex Hind is the CEO and co-founder of Heka, a flexible employee wellbeing platform that provides thousands of personalised health and wellbeing experiences to teams across the UK.

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